The UK continues to lag behind other developed nations in rates of cancer survival according to a recent report by Cancer Research UK. In seven comparable countries, there was an analysis of 3.9 million cancer cases from 1995 to 2014. Despite improvements in some areas, the results should that the UK was lagging in cancer survival.
Why Is This Happening?
The report blames National Health Service (NHS) short staffing and underfunding for the UK’s low rate of cancer survival. According to the Nuffield Trust NHS spending as a percentage of GDP fell by almost 0.3% between the beginning of austerity in 2010 and the end of the study in 2014. The UK Office for National Statistics says that UK government healthcare spending as of 2014 was higher than in Canada. The Cancer Research study lists Canada as a comparable country with better cancer survival rates. How has Canada managed to achieve better results with less investment? The answer could well be the outdated healthcare model the NHS uses.
The Outdated Structure Of The NHS
Parliament established the NHS in 1945. Therefore it is a product of the past. Whilst most other developed countries use a hybrid model of public and private expenditure, the UK continues to opt for funding and delivery by the state. Meaning, it is built on middle management and the interests of the state rather than the interests of patients. It is not just cancer survival that sees the NHS lagging behind. Similarly, it suffers from poor outcomes in infant mortality. The UK suffers more infant deaths than 14 other comparable countries. Life expectancy is also stagnating in Britain, whilst it rises elsewhere. In 2018, the UK plummeted to 35th out of 56 in global healthcare league tables.
Will We Reform the NHS?
The UK suffers something of a cult of personality around the NHS. It is constantly referred to as “our NHS” and any attempts to reform it are accused of being attempts to take healthcare away. The argument in Britain is that Tory cuts have resulted in a poor healthcare system, with the Labour party pledging billions of pounds of spending increases. Many other countries spend more on their healthcare systems. The reality, however, is that they use more effective systems in the first place. Cancer survival rates are a symptom of a crumbling system which needs structural reform rather than just more money. Despite this, the idealized vision of the NHS amongst the UK public makes meaningful reform unlikely any time soon.
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